Monday, January 31, 2011

For A Girl With A Fancy Camera...

It seems like Kath is the person most likely to convince me to throw myself off the edge of something. She didn't seem that dangerous when I met her.

Yesterday I was doing my usual careful picking around the park during off leash hours. Eddie's recall is good (and boosted by spray cheez) when he's around dogs he knows but with strangers he's a loose canon. Or he can be so we (I) choose our route carefully and he frolics on his own until we meet up with a crowd and then I keep him tethered. I wouldn't have turned left but I saw Bobby. Not so unusual but you'd think I'd have been more likely to see Kath who, at that point, was throwing herself down a hill on an inflatable sled.

"Come on!" she cried

I demurred. Even after climbing the (very modest) hill I was hesitant.

"Do it," she insisted.

I was scared.

"It's fine. Just go! I'll hold the dog," and she grabbed his leash.


"Start here, hold on to the handles and steer away from that tree."

Well, with instructions like that who am I to say no? I unzipped the bottom vents of my sleeping bag coat so I could hang my feet over the side for brakes and gingerly scooted to the edge with a death grip on those god damned handles.





Couldn't wait to do it again.

So we spent about an hour sledding down various slopes in our home park and cajoling other (relatively) sane adults into joining us. I can't wait to do it again and, considering the weather forecast, I might have a chance sooner rather than later.

I didn't get any photos because I had just rolled out of bed and dressed my dog in 2 layers of clothes and stomped half awake through half a city park full of snow. I wasn't awake enough to realize that I might walk into the perfect opportunity for one of my new lenses. Oh well.

Here's a rerun of the picture of me after Kath got me through a ride on the Cyclone. Sledding feels fun like that, too, and it doesn't cost $8.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Is anyone going on a trip soon? It's been cold up here for a while now. We're coming up (long view) on school vacations. While we've had plenty of snow days to break up the monotony they really aren't the same as going somewhere. I bet at least a few of you are headed somewhere and I bet that most of those are going somewhere warm. Somewhere that only one layer of clothing is required. In case you haven't guessed by now, I'm going somewhere.

I'm going to China.

I know!

I'm alternately incapacitatingly excited and incapacitatingly frightened. The flight, I have to tell you, is the part that's freaking me out. Will it be weird to be in a place with a different alphabet? Sure! But completely doable and interesting. Being in the air and mostly over water for almost 14 hours? Send Xanax! (Not kidding.)

So, anyway, this is to be treated as a once in a lifetime event. Not because I think I won't want to go back but because I think it would be unwise to assume that the opportunity will present itself more than once. Which is my way of justifying what happened yesterday. Yesterday I found myself with unexpected unscheduled time in Manhattan and, well, I bought all of it. In fact, I'll have to resort to a list to tell you what I came home with.

I am going to record the living bejesus out of this trip, people. I don't know if I'll have time or ability to do so in anything close to real time but when I get back, good lord y'all better hold on to your hats because I'll probably be updating about it in bits and pieces, an image or three at a time for the rest of your life, even if I die before you. I honestly think this trip is going to be that packed with stuff and excitement.

Oh, yes, brass tacks. As I understand it now I'll be leaving on February 17 (LGA - Detroit - Shanghai) and re-appearing stateside on March 3. A good, solid 2 weeks. I'll be based in Shanghai but will be taking a brief trip to Beijing to see the Great Wall and, I think, the Lost City.  I haven't solidified care of the menagerie yet but hope to do so by Tuesday. I'm already making packing lists and I've got time to learn my way around the new camera equipment. The weather forecast for the next 4 days sports a high of 50 and a low of 26, so, not tremendously different than where I am now. But the scenery? Oh that'll be a nice change.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Work Out From Hell

As of last night my little dog has decided he likes snow. Really likes snow. No, I mean, for real loves the fucking snow. There's bounding and circling and whirling and a certain amount of not listening. So today, after the city got nearly 20 inches of snow, I took him out just to see how far he would get. I never dreamed we'd make it as far as the park. Well, make it we did, up perilous stairs, round about through up to a foot of snow at any one time. By tomorrow I won't be able to lift my legs at all. Yet the dog did not slow. An hour out there and no sign of giving up until I made him stand still in the cold for a few minutes so I could talk to my friends. Oh the standing still. That produced shivering and crying and the big, sad eyes.

I took some pictures while I was out there. Easier planned than done while trying to corral a peppy little dog. I should probably clarify before you click through. Yes, I did force my dog to break a path for me. If he didn't I wasn't going to make it.

Some Snow

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow Folk

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Loosening Up For Ten

I'm going through this period where some days I just...forget to blog. Same thing happened with my 365 Self Portraits project. One day I just...forgot. I tried to get all worked up about this last night and then I realized that maybe it's not a bad thing. In fact, maybe it's a good thing. Balance, friends and neighbors, I'm looking into it.

Today is 10 Things Tuesday, though! It's been a while since we walked through my starred file and I just reconfigured my reader since site redesigns for some ventures left me lost. There ought to be at least one interesting thing in here for everyone, right?

1. Via Gothamist, here's a court room exchange worthy of an episode of Ally McBeal. Click through just for the priceless headline.

2. Back at Blogher this summer I attended a great panel about advice blogs. One of the panel members, Aunt Becky, launched a community blog last year called Band Back Together. Sometimes it's tough to read and sometimes it's hilarious. It has a real life of its own and it's a group of people who are truly helping each other. Today I read a wonderful post by a woman who is pro-choice and why. It's a beautifully personal story told in a lovely way.

3. This, also from Gothamist, is pretty much solely for Auntie. I know how bent she gets when people don't clean the weather off their cars and this story lends big flaming dry logs of fuel to her fire.

4. I have probably already squeed and whooped and hollered at you about Miss Doxie being back. She's back! Squeeeeee! Usually she talks about the dogs (the doxies, of course) but there's a post up today with a slide show of her cat's shenanigans that I cannot recommend to you highly enough. Love her. Love her cat. Am really glad I don't have crawl space plumbing to contend with.

5. You know how there are things you see in other people's spaces that you know would look silly or forced or grungy in your own? That's pretty much anything on any design blog ever for me. People, I do not keep a tidy home. It's comfortable, y'all. (Mostly.) Anyway, these things recommended by Design Sponge are that feeling times eleven but I still want them all because they are cool.

6. Speaking of well designed people, there's Aaryn. I cannot wait to lay eyes on her this summer! She recently did some soul searching and found inspiration in a site called Advanced Style. Both her words and the photos of Advanced Style gave me hope for my own rather "comfortable" way of putting myself together.

7. Anissa Mayhew is another fabulous blogger I heard speak this summer. She also has a community blog and it's called Aiming Low. Recently Chicky Baby wrote there about the fact that it's National Dog Training Month. Chicky is a dog trainer, she should know. I have been half assedly participating since she gave the heads up and it helps. It always helps. I do know this I'm just slow to action. I'm going back to basics, I've been letting the basics slide, but damned if Ed's whole being doesn't seem fucking thrilled when we finally get down to doing some work. Finally a job! Something important to do! Can we do it a million more times? Can we do it all the time? Forever? Me! Want! Purpose! Turns out that whole dogs-are-like-their-people thing is bullshit.

8. I'm finally back on track with Feministing's feed. Whew! One of the first things I read is about an anti-immigration bill working its way through the Mississippi legislature. In case you were one of those people who said that Arizona had its reasons for stopping people and demanding papers from them and it wasn't anything to be worried about other states wouldn't go ahead with it and they had every right and extenuating circumstances and constitution made to be fluid and and and. Well, not meaning to offend but what's that movie or TV show where one of the characters starts yelling out WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG, WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG, WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG, WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG, You'reWRONG, You'reWRONG, You'reWRONG to the tune of a grandfather clock striking the hour? Yeah, please refer to that. (OK, I'm willing to admit that you may have some valid points within your philosophy but I'm still against the legislation and I really like that movie - or TV show - even though I can't recall which one it is right this very second.)

9. I love Jim's photos of crumbling Detroit at Sweet Juniper. I love German Shepherds. This photo is pretty much a huge present specifically to me!

10. Today I leave you with this photo (perhaps not for the morally vegetarian among you) that I believe was styled and shot with my cats in mind.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Your Side

Parents, I want you to know that, by and large, I am on your side. Those dirty looks you get on airplanes? I'm against them. Ditto in the grocery store, on the street and in many restaurants. Kids are people too and they have a place in the world and, like every other human on the planet, they have good days and bad ones. I firmly believe if they don't spend time in a variety of situations they'll never learn to act appropriately in them.

As with most rules there's an exception. Live performance is an exception. Not all live performance, of course. There's a lot of wiggle room if you're, say, at an outdoor performance. The audience area can be amorphous and it's generally a public place so, while I'd expect that all caretakers of small folk will stay on the outskirts of that area I can see how there can be plenty of crossover. For the most part performers who are already competing with street noise, conversation and air traffic are prepared for a counter melody of, "Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!" Also, performances for kids give you free reign because, hello, for kids.

Today I attended a choral concert sung by adults with a program of adult-focused Americana music. It's not that the music was inappropriate for children but it was, arguably, music that takes some work from even adult listeners. Honestly, at this juncture I'm on your side, too, parents. Wanting to expose your kids to all kinds of music, even the more complex stuff, is laudable. There are two caveats, though.

1. Know your kid and his or her limits.

2. Respect the other people in the room, including those performing.

Live performance is a one strike game for itchy kids. Bringing quiet games or books, sitting in the back and to the side, attending nearish to nap time and cuddling are great strategies for extending the time you can enjoy this art with your progeny. However, the first elephant-footed 50 yard dash is your cue to put a door between you and the event. Most places will have a lobby perfectly positioned for this eventuality. The venue in use today in fact had both a lobby and a huge reception hall that was perfectly empty during the performance as well and we, the audience, had been alerted to it by the nice chorale member who clued us in that there would be wine and pot luck after the show.

So, I'm not saying you have to go home, but I am emphasizing that the respectful thing to do is to put a wall and a closed door between you and the art. I hear you explaining that the other parent in your little family was performing today. I know. And I rage a little on that parent's behalf because you've just wildly devalued his or her work. You're saying that it's OK to let a kid (or someone of any age) forcibly wrest attention from that person's work. All of it. Every song. Also, I'm betting that you aren't all married to the flutist whose every note was accompanied by toddler protest chants. I'm going to make a leap that, since you and the performing spouse have a kid together, you love this person. I'm going to make another big leap that respect is an enormous component of love. I hope that other parent whips your ever-loving ass when you get home. And not in a fun way.

Oh yes, I know, I don't have kids. Which is why it's interesting that I've spent countless hours walking the lobbies and anterooms of various buildings with small people while an event is going on a wall or two away from us. There's a stretch of East 3rd Street near the Life Cafe with which I'm also quite familiar, and happily so. I'm all for growing good audience members and I made it my job for a while. I know that part of that is not keeping a kid tied to an event in which they are no longer participating. In service of that lesson I've turned pages silently, I've produced makeshift drawing implements from the depths of my bag and, in one instance, I tapped out the rhythms of an entire classical concert into a 4-year-old's palm. Yeah, I didn't think that one was going to work either but there was some Benjamin Britten in there and it worked out. I don't recommend it, I think it was a fluke, but I think it's testimony to the lengths of creativity involved in staying for the whole concert (or play or dance or film or what have you).

I know it sucks to have to eat in shifts to some extent when you're out. I know it bites not to be able to hear your spouse's entire concert (seriously? you could hear it over the high pitched squealing?). I know and I appreciate that parenting is hard, so hard, super hard. I'm going to assume you knew that going in. And if I know you I'm going to offer to take a shift out in the lobby so at least we'll each get to hear half of the concert while we put another audience member notch in your kid's belt.

But next time? Move along when your precious flower has come to the end of her rope, please, or I'm coming to your house about half an hour after her bed time and singing a selection of rousing Aaron Copland tunes.

*The child pictured is good, well-behaved company in restaurants, bowling alleys and many other venues throughout my world.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No Time At All

Judge me if you will but I couldn't post yesterday I was too busy going to the dentist, doing laundry and seeing a movie. You may actually judge me when you hear what I saw. The review is over at Please Pass The Popcorn.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Warm Blanket

Oh, I have a cold. Oh I had a doctor's appointment. Oh I have to go to the dentist tomorrow. Oh woe oh woe oh very woe.

Last night as I came home there was a minivan sort of a thing (a Windstar, I believe) parked on the sidewalk directly in front of the complex's entrance. Still there when the pup and I went to meet Kath and Bobby. Still there as we returned. My thoughts, of course, were uncharitable. I mean, I know the snow and ice are making parking dicey and that it's complicated to move things in and out of our little building cluster but parking a pretty big car on the sidewalk seems excessive.

As we got closer I could see a gurney being wheeled out under the iron arch. In the vain hope of reversing my hard hearted thinking I'd wondered, briefly, if the vehicle was an ambulette. There wasn't any logo on the side but what do I know in this age of bizarre medical and insurance rules and possibilities.

Just a car length away and I could see that whoever was on the gurney had a warm looking maroon blanket over them. In fact it was completely over them, right up over the face. So it wasn't an ambulette at all.

A lot of people live in my little group of buildings. More in my neighborhood. Nearly untold millions in my city. You see stuff like this. I've seen it in smaller towns, too. Not a stranger to how bodies get from place to place, life to death, death to the earth, sea and sky. The neighbor approaching from the other end of the block looked a little shocked but I wasn't really. I felt a little sad for the person carefully swaddled in that crimson blanket. Maybe I also felt a little relieved for them.

It didn't take long for me to start thinking about someone else, though. The funeral home gentlemen were alone with the body which means that someone else, maybe a few someones, were in an apartment looking at an empty space where someone they loved used to be.

Suddenly I didn't care quite as much about the dentist or the doctor or my ear or my brain or my job or my slightly cracked heart. This time I wasn't one of those people looking at that space. This time. I hope they were having a good cry, then a good laugh and then something really good to eat and drink. I hope no one was trying to steal the spotlight or manipulate the conversation or make the night harder. I hope they all said what they needed to say and heard what they needed to hear and slept well last night preparing for a long day of logistics today and in the few days to come.

People seem to think that this city is very impersonal. The truth of it is that I wouldn't have half so many glimpses into other people's lives - marital arguments on the subway, child-rearing in the park, friends bonding at the bus stop - if I lived somewhere else. When you keep your head up and your eyes open every minute here can be a lesson. (And you learn to put your head down when you can't process any more education for the day.)

Thank you to the neighbor under the blanket for bringing my day into the right light. Godspeed and good rest to you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Photo Challenge: START/FINISH

This was a goodie, my friends. There's even one photo here you won't ever see on Flickr. I had a lot of trouble choosing between the offerings from photographers this time around. I just love this.

Be sure to click through to the shutterbugs' Flickr streams and to scroll down for the next challenge.

The other day I heard someone say with a smile, "You're horrible...I like that." So here's a challenge about things that might be bad or rough or weird but that you like. I'm still calling it the HORRIBLE photo challenge, though.

Please submit your photos (many, plural, all you can, come join us!) to our Flickr pool tagged with HORRIBLE and PHOTOCHALLENGE by 9am on Tuesday February 1, 2011 for  publication on Wednesday February 2nd. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Everything That Ails Me

1. I'm working through something in my head. It's making it hard to write sometimes. No worries.

2. My dog's inner monologue as he crossed a totally avoidable puddle this evening, "Oh, it's water! This is not good. Oh my! It's getting deeper, that is not good at all. Woah! Wait now, it is quite deep. I do not like this. At least I can raise one paw out of it. My belly is cold. Brrrr! This whole standing in deep water is not good. Not good at all." I had to direct him to just. get. out.

3. As you may have guessed there's snow and ice and rain here. It's getting kind of dicey. Today I walked home from the subway. I'd been following a woman for a few blocks but she was out of my sight when she turned a corner. When I did, too, I saw her approaching a man hopping around on one foot. He was holding the other foot out in front of him. Was he hurt? What had happened? At the last moment she veered off into a snowbank. She popped right out again and set his shoe down so he could slide right back into it. She kept right on walking, too, didn't even wait for him to tie it up.

4. This show Off The Map is, truly, terrible. I'm glad to see Zach "Seven" Gilford and Mamie "Little Streep" Gummer getting work and high focus parts but I really wish someone had found something a little meatier for them.

5. Vinegar turns out to be better for removing smells than most fancy smell removers.

6. After the dog's puddle adventure we continued walking and at one point came across an eighteen wheeler making the most amazingly awkward parking turn to back into a small driveway. There were about seven guys helping to direct him and he was doggedly working the issue. I wanted to stay until he was done and applaud but it was going to take a while and after just a pass or two I realized I was getting incredibly tense just watching. I don't park well. There he was wedged into the street, blocking traffic in two directions, a policeman among the cars, and failure wasn't an option. You can't just walk away from an enormous truck at right angles to itself impeding traffic. I'm sure he did it, though. I hope so.

7. I took the last of my antibiotics this afternoon. I seem to have avoided most side effects, though my stomach does feel like crap right now.

8. There's still fluid in my ear. Do I go back to the regular doc or just keep the appointment I have on Thursday with the specialist? I'm no good at these decisions.

9. I have a dentist appointment on Friday. I predict it will be both expensive and painful. In theory I'm just getting a cleaning but I'm pretty sure there will be more to be done. I hope to hell I'll be able to get it all done at the one appointment, though, don't want to learn there is pain ahead and have to come back later to feel it.

10. Today I went to work, felt a little better, came home, walked the dog, lay down for just a sec and am now getting up to write this, walk the dog and go back to bed. Here's hoping I wake up cured. Of everything that ails me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gifted And Talented

The last post was all properly sappy and whatnot but this one's the actual gift for the birthday girl.

Say Hello To The Birthday Girl!

Today is Chili's birthday.

She catches up with me.

My friend, we are 42.

Whew! Now we can concentrate on asking the right questions. 

Love you.